Have no fear Arkansas’ rice industry, the lawmakers are here to protect you from the threat of cauliflower frauds.
A recent article from Vice News has dived into a rather strange law passed in Arkansas regarding food labeling that hopes to manipulate the minds of consumers and cause a lot of confusion in the process.
According to reporter Bettina Markalintal:
“The Arkansas bill outlines how food words can be used. ‘Rice,’ it states, can only mean ‘the whole, broken, or ground kernels’ from the species Oryza sativa L. or Oryza glaberrima, or from one of the four grass species in the Zizania or Porteresia genus (i.e., wild rice). Violating those labels could mean fines…By that definition, most alt-rices would need to find a new name, since squishing a head of cauliflower through a ricer definitely doesn’t meet that criteria and neither does chickpea ‘rice.'”
Why is food labeling such a big deal in the first place? No manufacturer of cauliflower rice was calling it anything else, much less calling it plain-old “rice.”
The root of the issue is really about one of Arkansas’ main exports: rice.
Following the old practice of economic protectionism, lobbyists from big rice signed a formal public letter complaining about the rise in popularity that these carbs substitutes have been earning among the health-conscious. If you’re a politician that wants to stay in the good graces of big rice, you’d be best to heed their call.
The statement released by USA Rice declared war on “rice pretenders” way back in 2017 when they requested more regulation regarding food labeling. According to president and CEO of USA Rice, “[v]egetables that have gone through a ricer are still vegetables, just in a different form” and went on to draw a legal line in the sand stating that “only rice is rice.” This is the same person who a year later began to intimidate the cauliflower rice-loving community calling the food “a bit malicious and maybe nefarious.”
Is there anything in the Arkansas Constitution, or in the the US Constitution, that mentions anything regarding how food should be labeled?
At the end of the day, consumers that want cauliflower rice will still go out and find cauliflower rice whether it’s called “extremely minced cauliflower” or “cauliflower bits.” No amount of laws or regulations other than outright banning the product will prevent consumers from being deterred by big rice’s plot to effect cauliflower rice marketing. Like many times before in other industries, this is the iron triangle of lobbyists, regulators, and lawmakers attempting to rig the market against consumers and innovators once again.